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February 2018


For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.by John Greenleaf Whittier .

Many years ago, I was at a gun show in Connecticut with my husband who collected modern handguns. I was bored and hot and annoyed when my husband spotted a hand stitched pillow in one of the booths which read “Jew Learn to Shoot!” Impelled by the famous quote of my idol Zeev Jabotinsky, I went to speak to the owner. He explained that his father, a passionate Zionist taught him to shoot as a young boy, something that he used to good advantage as a sharp-shooter in the United States Army during world war 2. We engaged in a long discussion about the trapped Jews of Europe who could not defend themselves The subject still haunts me especially as I read:

Racing Against History: The 1940 Campaign for a Jewish Army to Fight Hitler by Rick Richman

The following are reviews of this wonderful book by David Isaac and Richard Baehr, and a column on “Ritchie’s Boys “and the book by Matti Friedman. Please read them and by all means read the book.

David Isaac


Why wasn’t there a Jewish army in World War II to fight the Nazis? No group had more motivation to do so. Well, it’s not that they didn’t want one. Rick Richman’s Racing Against History skillfully recounts the efforts by three major Zionist leaders to raise a Jewish army in America to fight Hitler. Chaim Weizmann, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and David Ben-Gurion, representing the center, right, and left of the political spectrum, came to the United States on separate missions with the same goal in 1940.

Ritchie’s Boys and the Men from Zion By Matti Friedman



A second new book, Rick Richman’s Racing Against History, examines a more radical option—Zionism—by describing three visits by Zionist leaders to the United States in the desperate year of 1940. Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, and Vladimir Jabotinsky stepped off ocean liners in New York that year, hoping to sound an alarm about the fate of Jews in Europe and to encourage the creation of a Jewish force to fight in the war. This was tricky, because the United States was still neutral, and American Jews weren’t sure how much they could help without endangering their own fragile position at home. Arriving separately and often at odds with each other, the three Zionist politicians addressed rallies, met important people, gave interviews, and wrote down their impressions, leaving material that Richman ably mines for this concise and illuminating account.

The Ritchie Boys practice their German-language prisoner interrogation skills on mock prisoners at Camp Ritchie. (Courtesy of NARA.)

Of the three leaders in Racing Against History, Weizmann was the most careful in his public utterances. He grasped the danger of the perception that world war was being waged for Jewish interests and preferred the quiet maneuver. He privately lobbied Chamberlain, the British prime minister, to accept “Jewish manpower, technical ability, resources” and was politely turned down. He privately lobbied for 20,000 permits to Palestine for Jewish children from Poland and was politely turned down. In America, he wrote, even mentioning what was happening to Jews in Europe might be “associated with warmongering.” American attitudes, he found, had “no relation to the grim realities which today face humanity at large and the Jews in particular.”

American Jewish thinkers of the time, Richman reminds us, included rabbis such as David Philipson of Cincinnati, who regarded the Jews as a universal people and the Land of Israel as “an outgrown phase of Jewish historical experience.” In an autobiography, the rabbi wrote: “Every land is the homeland for its Jews—the United States for me, as England for my English Jewish brother, France for my French Jewish brother, and so in every country.” Those lines, Richman notes, were published in 1941, with Europe under Nazi occupation.

In this volume, the sharpest contrast to Weizmann’s style is offered by Jabotinsky, who was outspoken about his impatience:

The old fallacy, the curse of our past, has been revived: that there is no Jewish problem; that all our troubles can be cured en passant by general measures of progress, and there is no need to worry about any special remedies. The allied victory will ensure democracy and equality . . . and that will be enough for the Jews.

Jabotinsky wanted a Jewish army raised immediately and said so, even though the mainstream American Jewish leadership called him a “militarist” and published a pamphlet warning against his views. In the pages of the Forward, editor Abraham Cahan mocked him as a “naïve person and a great fantasizer.” There was no need for Jabotinsky’s Jewish army, Cahan thought, and the Jewish problem would be solved not by a Jewish state but by an allied victory and democracy: If “true democracy exists, there is no place for anti-Semitism.” In other words, the way forward was to be American citizens and soldiers, like the Ritchie Boys.

Recent events in Europe and America would seem to suggest that anti-Semitism does, in fact, have a place in democracy; the English-language descendant of Cahan’s own Forward, for example, recently printed a bizarre op-ed by a Jewish supporter of an anti-Jewish boycott expressing sympathy for some of the views of an American neo-Nazi. The old idea of “Jewish warmongering,” about which Weizmann was so careful in 1940, is still current, as evidenced by the flap in September over a tweet by Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent, suggesting just that. And though the Zionist plan succeeded and there is a Jewish army, the normalization of the Jews has failed to materialize and their existential fears continue. Both the Ritchie Boys and the three Zionist leaders profiled in these books might be surprised how much the questions of their times remain unresolved 70 years later.

1940: American Inaction and the Tragedy of European Jewry By Richard Baehr


1940: American Inaction and the Tragedy of European Jewry By Richard Baehr

During 1940, three of the most significant Zionist leaders in the world – Chaim Weizmann, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and David Ben Gurion , all visited the United States , hoping to gain a measure of American Jewish support or US government support for the creation of a Jewish army to help fight the Nazis. Rick Richman’s new book, Racing Against History, provides an interesting and very carefully researched history of these visits, the leaders’ goals, what they accomplished, and what prevented greater success. Richman’s book is a fascinating look at a moment in time, different seemingly from our own, but with some of the same issues.

Many fewer people are aware today of Jabotinsky than of Weizmann or Ben Gurion. Richman provides an illuminating portrait of this exceptional Jewish leader and his work, which will serve as an introduction for many. Nearly 40 years after Jabotinsky’s death, Menachem Begin became the first Israeli Prime Minister whose politics were rooted in his vision.

In World War 1, the British had allowed the creation of a Jewish legion, 15,000 strong, that had fought on their side in various places, with Jabotinsky having a leadership military role. Weizmann, a highly respected British chemist with many British government contacts, parlayed the Jewish help for Britain in the war to gain support for creation of a Jewish homeland in historic Palestine, laid out in the Balfour Declaration, and eventually leading to the British mandate for Palestine between the wars.

Palestinians: The Hamas-ISIS War, Corrupt Leaders by Bassam Tawil

The Hamas-ISIS war comes at a time when the Gaza Strip is experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis, including shortages of fuel and medicine, that has forced a number of hospitals and medical centers to suspend their services. The suffering of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, however, is apparently of no concern to Hamas.

Instead of attending to the needs of his people, Mahmoud Abbas is busy picking a fight with the U.S. administration and its “Zionist” representatives, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt.

Once again, the Palestinians have fallen victim to their leaders, who are seemingly preoccupied with one thing alone: pumping millions of dollars of public donations into their own private coffers.

What do Muslim terrorists do when they are not killing “infidels” and non-Muslims? It is simple: They start killing each other.

Take, for example, the Islamic terror groups Hamas and Islamic State (ISIS). Although the two groups share the same ideology and seek to kill anyone who obstructs their effort to spread their version of Islam to the rest of the world, it now seems that the throats they are looking to slit are each other’s.

The quarrel between Hamas and ISIS is not a spat between good guys and bad guys. Rather, it is a dispute between two bloodthirsty, vicious and ruthless Islamic terror groups that have the blood of countless non-Muslims on their hands.

Happiness and Man at Yale Welcome to PSYC 157: ‘Psychology and the Good Life.’ By Kyle Smith

The most popular class at Yale is also being described as the most difficult class at Yale. Yet its professor is lax about checking to see whether assignments have been carried out and encourages students to take it on a pass/fail basis.

Welcome to Happiness 101.

Some 1,200 Yale students, or one-quarter of the student body, are taking Professor Laurie Santos’s class, actually called PSYC 157, or “Psychology and the Good Life.” It’s not only the most popular course today but the most popular one in the 316-year history of Yale College. Santos’s purpose is to provide an antidote to what appears to be an epidemic of stress-related psychic unease on today’s campus, and she has counterparts at other colleges. The course is “a cry for help,” one Yale student said. By all accounts, the frenzy of competition among high-achieving young people is more intense than ever before: From middle school, if not earlier, kids are desperate to beat their peers on the next leg of the rat race. First it’s getting into a top-ranked college, then it’s acing the tests and scoring the internships that lead to either a fabulous first job or admission to a name-brand graduate or professional school.

Students appear to be more stressed out than before: More than half of Yale undergraduates were found to have sought mental-health counseling in a 2013 survey. A national survey four years earlier had discovered that 84 percent felt generally overwhelmed and a quarter were so depressed they said it was difficult to function. This has happened even as universities have been eager to coddle students by, for instance, grading them ever more leniently. “In many departments now, there are in effect only three grades used: A, A-minus, and B-plus,” a Yale report found in 2013. (In WFB’s day, only about the top 10 percent were given A or A-minus marks.) Coursework has changed dramatically also: Students can get away with reading less and watching television more. (Offerings this semester include “Scandinavian Film and TV,” “Trauma in American Film and TV,” and “Hollywood in the Digital Age.”)

Grassley-Graham Memo Affirms Nunes Memo — Media Yawns We need a full-blown investigation of how the FISA court came to grant warrants to spy on Carter Page. By Andrew C. McCarthy

In a word, the Grassley-Graham memo is shocking. Yet, the press barely notices.

Rest assured: If a Republican administration had used unverifiable hearsay from a patently suspect agent of the Republican presidential candidate to gull the FISA court into granting a warrant to spy on an associate of the Democratic nominee’s campaign, it would be covered as the greatest political scandal in a half-century.

Instead, it was the other way around. The Grassley-Graham memo corroborates the claims in the Nunes memo: The Obama Justice Department and FBI used anonymously sourced, Clinton-campaign generated innuendo to convince the FISA court to issue surveillance warrants against Carter Page, and in doing so, they concealed the Clinton campaign’s role. Though the Trump campaign had cut ties with Page shortly before the first warrant was issued in October 2016, the warrant application was based on wild allegations of a corrupt conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Moreover, the warrant meant the FBI could seize not only Page’s forward-going communications but any past emails and texts he may have stored — i.e., his Trump campaign communications.

With its verification by the Grassley-Graham memo, the Nunes memo now has about a thousand times more corroboration than the Steele dossier, the basis of the heinous allegations used by the Justice Department and FBI to get the FISA warrants.

What the Grassley-Graham memo tells us is that the Nunes memo, for all the hysteria about it, was tame. The Grassley-Graham memo tells us that we need not only a full-blown investigation of what possessed the Obama administration to submit such shoddy applications to the FISA court, but of how a judge — or perhaps as many as four judges — rationalized signing the warrants.

We need full disclosure — the warrants, the applications, the court proceedings. No more games.

Eugene Schlusser Living in Fear in Post-War Germany

As one tyranny replaced another, Natalie Makarova was allowed to work with the immigration authorities processing refugees. She may have hoped to make some contact there or gather information that might help the family to get out of the country. Even the faintest possibility had to be followed through.

The following are two extracts from Escape from the Sun: Surviving the Tyrannies of Lenin, Hitler and Stalin by Eugene Schlusser, published last May by Australian Scholarly, $39.95. Each extract is briefly introduced by Eugene Schlusser.

I believe my father Paul learned of his sister-in-law Zinaida’s arrest in Berlin in October 1947. She was accused of spying for the CIA. As my mother Natalie later described it, he then became almost “schizophrenic” with fear.

Paul, now close to desperation, made a drastic and in many ways an inexplicable decision. He resigned from Schanzenbach & Co to take work with the US Occupation Forces. Did he hope that this could give him contacts to help with an escape from Europe? Family lore, often repeated, was that he had been dismissed because he was a foreigner. This was a fabrication, designed to dis-inform every­one as Paul tried to hide his increasingly desperate state. The strain was telling on his health. His blood pressure was high and he seemed to be tired all the time. As medication was not available, he tried water and steam baths to assist with his breathing, cleanse the skin and above all reduce his blood pressure. He improvised a sauna in our living room and tried to replicate the Russian banya. After a period in the sauna he would lie exhausted on the living room sofa trying to get his strength back with an afternoon sleep. We would be sternly instructed to remain quiet, speak in whispers and above all not slam any doors.

It is unclear what information father kept from mother, but she also felt the increasing stress. We all felt it. Loud voices of frustration came from the kitchen more frequently. Their tone of voice revealed their state of mind.

I imagine that when the disputes were not about finances, they were disagreements about Paul’s reasoning, and his plans to get the family out of Europe. Naturally, Natalie worried about his health and the many things he was involved in: his job, his family, the Russian Welfare Society. He had also recently undertaken to help build an Orthodox church in Frankfurt. All this took time, in addition to the long irregular hours he worked. His income had dropped considerably, as his teaching earned him much less than his salary as an engineer. He still had money deposited at Schroders in London but he could not access it.

Democrats’ filthy record, and it’s Trump who has no principles? By Jack Hellner

Paul Waldman writes an opinion piece entitled “Rob Porter scandal reveals a White House with no principles.” I don’t recall Waldman or other WaPo writers noticing that the Obama and Clinton presidencies are the ones with no principles.

Bill Clinton and wife Hillary physically and mentally abused many women over the years. Not only did the media, staffers, and Democrats not care, but they were willing to put the two back in the White House again.

Anyone with a “bimbo eruption team” that sets out to destroy any woman who dared to tell the truth about Bill certainly has no principles. Journalists who looked the other way are no better.

It has been clear for a long time that Obama never cared about principles; he cared about government power. I would challenge any journalist to tell me which principles Obama lived by when he:

– Knowingly said continually that people would be able to keep their health care plans and doctors and that their premiums would go down if Obamacare passed, even though his administration obviously knew that these statements were lies. Obama was more interested in a legacy than in telling the truth.

– Had the IRS target political opponents to shut them up, violating the constitutional rights of those who dared to disagree with him.

– Illegally spied on thousands of Americans, including Trump and his allies.

– Knowingly allowed his secretary of state to operate outside the law and then lied to the public, saying he didn’t know despite emailing her himself.

Facing a Decade in Prison for Hijab Protest, Iranian Woman Refuses to Repent By Bridget Johnson

One of the women arrested in Iran for removing her hijab in protest refuses to repent to authorities even if that means she spends the next decade behind bars, her attorney said.

Narges Hosseini was arrested Jan. 29 after she posted a photo on social media in which she was waving her hijab on the street. She was first taken to Shahr-e Rey Prison, south of Tehran, with bail set too high for her family to afford.

She was one of the women in Tehran and Isfahan inspired to protest by Vida Movahed, whose image of waving a white hijab on a stick while standing on a platform on Revolution Street in Tehran at the end of December went viral. Movahed, 31, disappeared into an Iranian jail for a month.

Hosseini, 32, snubbed the regime officials who have levied charges against her that could carry up to 10 years in prison: “openly committing a harām [sinful] act,” “violating public prudency” and “encouraging immorality or prostitution.”

“Ms. Hosseini did not even appear in court to express remorse for her action,” Hosseini’s lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran on Monday. “She said she objects to the forced hijab and considers it her legal right to express her protest.”

Climate Cabal Purges ‘Deniers’ By Julie Kelly

The climate cabal is in a panic. The Trump Administration is systematically dismantling President Obama’s climate change legacy: Federal agencies are scrubbing references to climate change, President Trump announced the United States. would exit the Paris Climate Accord, and his cabinet is peddling American-made fossil fuels around the world.

Climate change barely registered a blip in the 2016 presidential election, and even members of the alleged Party of Science are increasingly uninterested in global warming. Only 19 percent of Democrats say climate change is the most important issue in the mid-term elections, and that support drops to 11 percent for independent voters. On the heels of an El Nino season where temperatures were customarily warm, most of the country is now enduring a frigid, blizzard-like winter, which the climate propagandists counterintuitively also blame on global warming.

So, as the climate cabal feels their grip on federal policy and public opinion weaken, its zealots are becoming more desperate. Michael Mann, a Penn State University climatologist and the media’s go-to-guy for any apocalyptic quote about how anthropogenic global warming will kill us all, seems more unbalanced than usual. As the “Citizen Secretary of Science and Environment” in Donald Trump’s so-called “Shadow Cabinet”—which also includes Laurence Tribe and Robert Reich—Mann appears to be taking his pretend post a bit too seriously. Mann recently called White House advisor Kellyanne Conway “evil incarnate,” said Trump is a “moron” and a “threat to the planet,” and denounced Devin Nunes as “a traitor to this country” and demanded he “be subject to appropriate sanctions.” He’s mocked the president’s son and tweeted at the First Lady. (Pretty ironic coming from a guy who filed a lawsuit because someone called him a mean name.)

Review: When ‘The Marshall Plan’ Helped Plot a New Course for the West Economic aid did not cause a Keynesian miracle but was a diplomatic master stroke, convincing wavering nations to reject the Soviets at the dawn of the Cold War. By Paul Kennedy

‘Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.” It is difficult to think of any words delivered at any university commencement that had more historical weight than those spoken in the final minutes of George C. Marshall’s speech at Harvard on June 5, 1947.

The venue was carefully chosen as a dignified but noncontroversial place. The speaker was one of the greatest secretaries of state this country ever produced. The words had been crafted and recrafted by some of the most brilliant minds at the State Department and on its Policy Planning Staff. But while key sentences took the high moral ground, there was an urgent political purpose to this declaration by Marshall. He addressed the pressing issue of how to prevent European nations from collapsing into economic ruin and despair, and in some cases suffering a Communist takeover.

Marshall’s speech announced a great act of American statecraft, and marked a significant step away from the prewar, Rooseveltian era of noncommitment in European matters. In this dramatic move, the Truman administration—glumly recognizing it was the only Western country with any money after World War II, shocked by the reports of near-starvation across Europe and desperate to shore up friendly governments—stepped up to the plate.

With an equally frightened American Congress behind it, the government offered huge sums of money to any democratic country in Europe able to come up with a plausible recovery scheme. These countries—and this was a deliberate gesture—could be on either side of the zonal division of Europe established at Yalta; all that was needed was a willingness to produce a rebuilding plan and join in the common effort. America’s aid package was unprecedented in size, threatened no one and therefore ought to have been opposed by no one. Who on earth would want to stop this act of extraordinary generosity? Who could be against the Marshall Plan?

That is, of course, a rhetorical question, because one person would definitely want to stop the scheme: the powerful and increasingly paranoid Joseph Stalin. He feared America’s economic power, was scared stiff of Germans (still) and any future unified Germany, and in fact by this time saw demons everywhere. As Benn Steil details in his brilliant book “The Marshall Plan,” the Soviets had shown ever-greater intransigence throughout 1946 and 1947 in regard to all proposals for the economic rebuilding of Europe and the political reconstitution of the defeated Germany. The exceptions, to be sure, were schemes of theirs that calculated to have all Germany fall into the Eastern orbit. CONTINUE AT SITE

There’s One Thing Worse Than Paying Bad Teachers Not to Work Bill de Blasio’s New York has started putting them back in the classroom, especially in poor areas. By Marcus A. Winters

What should a city do with poor teachers who, thanks to union rules, cannot be fired? For years New York has let them linger on its Absent Teacher Reserve, where they are paid without having a permanent spot in any school. But now the city is taking the opposite approach: putting them back into classrooms.

The ATR is an example of what happens when reform runs up against inflexible labor rules. In 2005 Mayor Michael Bloomberg ended the practice of filling teaching slots in New York’s public schools by seniority. Instead, he gave principals increased power to hire the teachers they thought best. The complication was the union contract. Laid-off teachers could either look for a position elsewhere or join the ATR, where they receive full salary and benefits as they move across schools doing short-term work, often as substitutes.

The ATR differs from the notorious “rubber rooms,” or reassignment centers, where suspended teachers accused of misconduct once awaited adjudication of their cases. Teachers aren’t placed on the ATR because they are facing dismissal. They just can’t (or won’t) persuade a principal to hire them. Some have received ineffective teaching ratings. Others have records of disciplinary problems like absenteeism or sleeping on the job.